Pokémon Go developer Niantic, Inc. has been under fire lately for its decision to shut down third-party apps that help people find Pokémon. This has turned many off of the game, especially if they live in rural areas where augmented reality creatures are few and far between. As it turns out, Niantic was doing this to free up its server resources so it could launch the game in Latin America.
"As some of you may have noticed we recently rolled out Pokémon Go to Latin America including Brazil," the developer stated in a new blog post addressing the issue. "We were very excited to finally be able to take this step. We were delayed in doing that due to aggressive efforts by third parties to access our servers outside of the Pokémon Go game client and our terms of service.
"We blocked some more of those attempts yesterday. Since there has been some public discussion about this, we wanted to shed some more light on why we did this and why these seemingly innocuous sites and apps actually hurt our ability to deliver the game to new and existing players. The chart below shows the drop in server resources consumed when we blocked scrapers. Freeing those resources allowed us to proceed with the Latin America launch."
"In addition to hampering our ability to bring Pokémon Go to new markets, dealing with this issue also has opportunity cost. Developers have to spend time controlling this problem vs. building new features. It's worth noting that some of the tools used to access servers to scrape data have also served as platforms for bots and cheating which negatively impact all Trainers. There is a range of motives here from blatant commercial ventures to enthusiastic fans but the negative impact on game resources is the same."
It's unclear exactly how much of a difference blocking third-party apps actually makes as that chart offers no metrics to measure the change. But the logic behind the decision is finally clear.
Another common criticism about how Pokémon Go has changed is in the removal of a feature dictating when you're close to a Pokémon. Niantic was less forthcoming with information on this, but it said "We have heard feedback about the Nearby feature in the game and are actively working on it."
For more on Niantic's augmented reality phenomenon, we have an extensive Pokémon Go guide offering novice and advance tips alike.
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